Turkish top diplomat to visit Iraq amid tensions

Turkish top diplomat to visit Iraq amid tensions

Turkish top diplomat to visit Iraq amid tensions

Turkey’s foreign minister will visit Iraq on Jan. 9 to try to ease tensions after Iran launched missiles at U.S.-led forces in response to the killing of a top Iranian commander, the Foreign Ministry said on Jan. 8.

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will travel to Iraq as part of Ankara’s “intensified diplomatic efforts to alleviate the escalated tension in the aftermath of recent developments in the region,” the ministry said in a statement.

Çavuşoğlu also spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif by phone and discussed the recent tensions in the region, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

U.S. forces killed Tehran’s most prominent military commander Qasem Soleimani last week, prompting Iran to promise revenge. Iranian state television said Iran had fired 15 missiles at U.S. targets in Iraq early on Jan. 8.

Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 6 that Turkey was in contact with all parties in the region and Washington to de-escalate tensions, adding that Ankara would work to help solve the issue.

Over the phone, Çavuşoğlu also extended his condolences to Zarif over a plane crash that killed all 167 passengers and nine crew members aboard.

A Ukrainian passenger jet carrying 176 people crashed on Jan. 8, just minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital’s main airport, turning farmland on the outskirts of Tehran into fields of flaming debris and killing all on board.

Çavusoğlu spoke with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko over the phone following the plane crash near Iran’s capital Tehran, said a diplomatic source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

“It was learned with great sorrow that a passenger plane belonging to the Ukrainian Airlines, which was operating the Tehran-Kiev flight, fell shortly after its departure from Tehran International Airport today [Jan. 8] and that all passengers and crew members on the plane were killed,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“We share the sorrow of friendly and brotherly people of Ukraine and express our profound sympathy and condolences to the bereaved families,” read the statement.